Which is more appropriate: To baptize babies or to baptize people who are old enough to make a personal decision?
Obviously, there are bright, godly people of both persuasions. However, it seems clear that in the New Testament, baptism is a willing pledge made by those who are old enough to recognize their sin, mature enough to comprehend the significance of the death of Christ, and independent enough to commit themselves to Him.
It is important to note that there isn’t a clear reference to a baby being baptized in the whole of the Bible. Almost every time baptism is mentioned, it is preceded by some command for belief. A good example is Acts 2:38: "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."
We are never told to be baptized and then believe, but to first come to belief in trusting faith, and then displaying that decision by associating ourselves with Christ in baptism. Baptism is the initial step of a faithful heart, and this decision requires significant levels of maturity.
It is appropriate, however, to dedicate a baby. At Essential Rock, we do baby dedications. On a regular basis, we offer parents of newborns an opportunity to come forward with their children for prayer and consecration. Note that these are dedication ceremonies, not baptisms.
What if I was baptized as an infant? What should I do?
I have been baptized, but not by immersion...
First, you should be grateful that you had parents who cared enough about you to set you apart for God. Because of their devotion, you have an opportunity to complete their prayer by willingly submitting to adult baptism.
Adult baptism is not a sign of disrespect for what your parents did. In fact, it can be seen as a fulfillment of their prayers. Be thankful for the heritage of concerned parents, but don’t be negligent of your responsibility as an adult to make your personal pledge toward God in adult baptism. Several who are now members of this church were baptized as infants and then, upon coming to a personal faith, were baptized as adults. God has led you to this point, and we pray that you will take this important step as soon as possible.
All the Greek dictionaries of the New Testament define the Greek word 'baptize' as 'immersion'. The symbolism of immersion is compelling; just as a person lowers you into the water, Christ lowers you into the pool of his grace until every inch of your self is clean. Buried in a watery grave, covered from head to foot with God’s love, you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
If you have any questions or concerns about this aspect of baptism, we welcome the opportunity to visit with you. Please reach out to Pastor John at (920) 841-6459, or send us an message through our contact form.